Posted by: arieliondotcom | March 17, 2013

Surprise Endings (Ruth 4)

If you’re human, Christian or not, you are guaranteed one thing: a surprise ending! Death! Even if you take your own life (and if you have that thought, please don’t go through with it) you will be surprised by the result. And if you die a true Christian, trusting JESUS Christ alone and completely for your welfare in life, death and eternity, you will experience such joy in the afterlife that it would drive you mad and kill you if you were still alive.

Today’s reading wraps up the Book of Ruth with a surprise ending. But it’s the kind of surprise that is so great the first time you hear it that you can’t wait for others to experience it, too, like parents reliving Christmas through their children. In fact this is the kind of story parents would have recited to their children who, knowing the ending, wanted to experience the joy over and over again.

Boaz, a godly man, is in love with a woman, Ruth, who loves him, too. They’re both godly people in love with the One True GOD and showing it long before meeting each other. Ruth is a foreign convert to Judaism caring for her dead husband’s mother, Naomi, having followed her back to Israel.

GOD has used Naomi to bring Ruth and Boaz together because by the laws of Israel he may marry her to carry on the family name of Ruth’s dead husband and dead father-in-law. But there’s one thing standing between them, as Boaz is righteous enough to point out: a relative who has the right to claim Ruth for himself if he likes.

So Boaz goes to the public spot where these types of things take place. There’s some suggestion that he’s a judge or someone else of high reputation. It’s also by the gate and shows Boaz is anxious to claim Ruth for his own by finding this other man as quickly as possible. He doesn’t wait for a regular council meeting to bring it up but grabs the man and has him wait while he gathers the council members together for a special meeting.

The first surprise is on us because Boaz makes no mention of Ruth at first. This is the first time he mentions or the story mentions what would have been the most important thing to anyone else: the land. In that day, inheriting land would be much more important than inheriting a widow with it. Land meant wealth and women meant another mouth to feed and more children. Good news only if she had sons to help with the land. Otherwise it meant more expense with more mouths to feed for years to come.
The fact that Scripture doesn’t mention the land until now is to emphasize that Boaz was interested in Ruth for love, not what she brought with her. In fact, since neither Naomi nor Ruth mention it as a means to make money to keep themselves alive it suggests without a husband for Ruth they had no further plan B. They trusted the LORD and Boaz completely.

When Boaz mentions only the land the other man (never mentioned so his family name won’t be disgraced by the way the story ends) quickly, greedily, agrees.

A pause here, while listeners gasp for breath! The dream of a happy ending for Ruth and Boaz seems shattered!

But then, as if mentioning it separately to see what kind of character this other man has and how he will treat Ruth and Naomi, Boaz mentions Ruth last. Suddenly the man changes his mind.

Jewish commentators say this was for a reason that confused me before I read it as well. The LORD says that Israel is never to bless descendants of Moab or do good to them because of the way Moab treated them. But the distinction is that they are not to let their women marry Moabites. According to these commentators, there was no restriction on a Jewish man marrying a Moabitess, that is a Moabite woman who converted to Judaism. It was because he thought his family would be judged that the man wouldn’t marry Ruth.

But others say that reason doesn’t make sense. Then the man would have no shame and his name would be mentioned. And it would infer in front of the council that Boaz was about to do something questionable. Instead, a more likely reason (though the point of there being nothing wrong with marrying a Moabitess convert is true) is greed again. The same reason that had the man snap up profitable land, no questions asked, had him quickly refuse another mouth to feed. It would diminish what he had and what he would be able to leave to his own family.

So Boaz now acts quickly and finalizes the deal. And the way he does it seems to point out the greediness of the shamed man. Because now Boaz mentions that the inheritance not only includes the land of Ruth’s husband but of her husband’s father and her husband’s brother as well. And as a sign of being a man of character, he mentions Naomi, showing that he assumes the responsibility of taking care of her for the rest of her life. The inference is “You would have gotten more than you thought with a mother in law but more than what you need. GOD provides.”

Single Christian ladies, here is another reminder to find your Boaz. Someone who, as JESUS calls us all to be, is as wise as a serpent but as innocent as a dove. A man who will be a husband, not another child, a provider, not a taker and always has your future and best interests as a couple in mind. And notice that he is someone who loves and respects your family.

The deal is clinched. The council seems relieved the best man got the better over the greedy man and we get our happy ending,

But wait! There’s more! As a famous journalist, Paul Harvey would say, here’s the REST of the story. Boaz marries Ruth and cares for Naomi. In spite of Boaz being a good deal older than Ruth (which the council members seem to have emphasized) they have a son, Obed. This is another sign of the righteousness of Ruth and Boaz since their son’s name means “Serving.”

Boaz not only took care of Naomi but Ruth allowed her to be Obed’s nurse. Some ascribe this to a miracle, that she was literally wet nurse to him in her old age. GOD describes Himself as being a nursing Father in Numbers. But either way it means totally trusted one, protector and caregiver. They trusted Naomi with their baby as much as they trusted themselves. And it renewed her life, perhaps literally.

Remember your parents, young parents. No matter what your relationship with them was or wasn’t don’t rob your children of a relationship with them. Grandchildren are a new lease on life to the old.

And now the surprise! Obed grew up and had a son, too. If you know your Bible the name, Jesse, is familiar. He was the father of none other than King David himself! To a Jewish child, it didn’t get any better than realizing Ruth and Boaz were Grandma and Grandpa to King David himself!

But wait, Christian! Because there’s a surprise for you, too! When we trust in JESUS Christ alone we are born again. We are not just born to eternal Life for the future, but we are grafted in, adopted children into His natural family through Mary and adopted family through Joseph. The family tree mentioned here continues to grow to include the grafted in branches of every Believer in JESUS Christ. Other children of other tribes rejoiced that this story is about their king. But we, Christians can rejoice because not only is it about King David but our King JESUS. And not only our King but our adopted family! This story is about your great-great-great (insert appropriate number of greats for your generation) Grandma and Grandpa by adoption and further back to Abraham!

Don’t refuse your inheritance in Christ. Don’t let your life end without ensuring the first thing you see and hear after death is JESUS, not Satan, shouting “Surprise!”

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